Resolve to bake better breads—with a healthy twist of ancient grains.
It’s the New Year! And we’re launching this season with a bread feature. Unusual? Perhaps, given how our continent typically focuses on a “restraining diet” in January. We tend to eliminate all things carb.
But in this issue, we’re zooming in on something much more important: sustainability. You don’t need to deny yourself the “bread of life” if you understand the value of its complexity, the value that has been dashed throughout the centuries but is now respectably finding its way back in.
Looking at trends today, people are opting for alternatives—more gut-worthy bread and carb products that are often gluten free. As a result, small and independent farmers are shifting their attention away from high-gluten, light-textured grains and producing more nontraditional grains. In the process, they’re re-establishing a vast new frontier of good, healthy grains for our consumptive needs while challenging decades of commercially prepared grains.
Today we’re seeing a greater variety of baked artisan blends producing flatbreads, tortillas, naan cakes, sourdoughs, and loaves using alternative grains. Ultimate “yum.” To make these breads yourself using a variety of grains available in many health food and mainstream stores is not as daunting as you might think.
The array of ancient grains is now far more conventional and much more available to those of us longing for more purist wheat ingredients. Switching up grains with our current typical blends reaps the most amazing artisan breads without compromising the flavours we’re most familiar with.
There’s growing evidence we’re saying goodbye to “cake” and hello to “substance” more easily than we thought possible. After all, with a good loaf of substance we tend to eat less, chew more healthily, and process the results with more energy in the pipeline. And as we add finely ground ancient grain kernels to our commercial flour, we’re doing our bodies a service: the nutrient compositions alone give us more sustenance.
Think about thin slices of delicious artisan breads—perfect for toasting to serve with hummus, shaved vegetables, and dollops of fresh quark. Or cut them into coarse cubes for croutons to dip into stews.
Focus on baking bread today using artisan grains from generations ago that are now being recultivated. Recognize them for what they are—the mainstream of good health. What a great way to start a new year!
10 top helpful bread-making gadgets
1/ Electric stand mixer
Not everyone has a pair of biceps that need a workout. With a sturdy stand mixer to knead hearty dough for 10 minutes, you can multitask while it’s busy working.
2/ Stainless steel mixing bowls
These are perfect for mixing and ideal for oiling and rising bread.
3/ Silicone scraper
This handy tool doubles as a scraper and dough cutter if making rolls. Perfect for gathering up scraps when kneading dough by hand on the counter.
4/ Pizza stone
A heavy clay stone placed on a baking rack in the oven browns and crisps bread dough evenly.
5/ Wooden rolling dowel
Typically maple wood, this rolling pin is perfect as it holds a light dusting of flour, resulting in less sticking.
6/ Heavy-duty sheet pan
Conducts heat evenly and won’t warp or bend at high temperatures.
7/ Cooling rack
A metal cooling rack that fits inside the large sheet pan works to allow even cooling after baking.
8/ Weigh scale
A weigh scale comes in handy for a variety of uses, especially when dividing dough into buns before baking.
9/ Pastry brush
These come in a variety of sizes and qualities. Best for cleaning is a silicone brush, as it can be washed in a dishwasher without damage.
10/ Bread knife
A sturdy serrated knife helps to cleanly slice a freshly baked crusty loaf.